Afterschool programs improve employee productivity, reduce absenteeism and support working parents. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 1.3 million school-age children and youth (5-18) who have working parents. (Pennsylvania KIDS COUNT, 2004)
A study of the Extended-Service Schools Initiative found that “afterschool programs were having beneficial outcomes: 80 percent of parents said they were less worried about their child’s safety after school; 57 percent said their child’s participation helped them manage their own work schedule; 47 percent said it let them attend classes or job training more easily; 45 percent said it helped them get a better job or do a better job.” (Public Private Ventures, 2002)
The Afterschool Toolkit: Business-to-Business provides business leaders ways in which they can get involved with afterschool and how they can share ideas with other business leaders. A key component of the Toolkit is the section that explains why business should care about afterschool, specifically, how afterschool is a good investment that affects businesses’ bottom lines by supporting families and preparing the workforce of the future.
Jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying in America. Like virtually all jobs today, they require skills that are in high demand: critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, perseverance and experimentation. Afterschool STEM programs are stepping up to help young people gain these skills and prepare for future success.
The STEM Ready America Compendium highlights powerful stories of success from across the country and the latest in the growing body of research on the important role afterschool learning plays in providing the skills that are in high demand by employers in today’s workforce. Use these tools as you talk about and share this resource.
Pennsylvania participated in a 2016 national study of 11 states that found strong evidence in support of the value of afterschool programs. Following is a brief summary of some of the findings.
Participating in afterschool STEM programs improves students’ reported attitudes, knowledge and skills.
An analysis of student self-reported change shows that participation in a STEM afterschool program increases positive attitudes towards STEM. Because of their afterschool experience:
Not only does participation in STEM afterschool programs influence how students think about STEM, more than 70 percent of students across all states reported positive gains in 21st century skills, including perseverance and critical thinking. These findings are important because high science interest levels are associated with improved science literacy (Dabney et al., 2011), greater academic achievement (Hughes, Luo, Kwok, & Loyd, 2008; Schiefele, Krapp, & Winteler, 1992), college readiness and acceptance (Wang & Holcombe, 2010), and STEM course enrollment and career acquisition (Watt et al., 2012). The 21st century skills also are associated with improved academic performance (Murphy et al., 2015; Oberle, Schonert-Reichl, Hertzman, & Zumbo, 2014).
Now more than ever is the time for OST programs and local business and industry to build strong partnerships to advocate for the importance of OST and support STEM learning and career education. In today’s global economy, it is not enough for students to be proficient in STEM, students must become passionate about STEM if America is to close the education gap with its competitors.